Crime persists around campus

Atlanta Police Department Chief Richard Pennington announced plans to place four more police officers on and around Tech campus. The announcement was made on Tuesday Oct. 13 at a City Hall press conference following a string of violent crime around both the Tech campus as well as the Atlanta University Center (AUC).

On Friday Oct. 2 at 12:15 a.m. two Tech students were robbed at gunpoint in Home Park. The students were walking on Hemphill between 10th and 14th Street when two men approached them on foot. Both men were described as black males around five feet nine inches tall. One of the two men drew a gun and demanded the students’ belongings. After the robbery, both men fled the scene in a black vehicle headed northbound. This crime was followed by a second similar robbery just nine days later.

On Oct. 11 at approximately 11:30 p.m. two more Tech students were robbed at gunpoint in Home Park. The students were walking on Ethel Street when a man exited the passenger side of a light-colored sedan. The man, who was described by one of the victims as a black male about five foot eight inches tall wearing baggy clothes, was armed. He drew a handgun on the two students and demanded their belongings. After the students turned over their things the perpetrator fled the scene heading north. Both of the Home Park robberies are being handled by the Atlanta Police Department.

While no students were harmed in either confrontation in Home Park, not all student-related crime in the city has ended without violence. Last May Tech student Patrick Whaley was shot in the parking deck of the Tivoli Tenside apartment buildings near campus. Three men were sentenced on Oct. 13 for the crime of shooting Whaley as well as the kidnapping of Georgia State student Carsten Singh. The shooter, Robert Hodge, was sentenced to 30 years incarceration while his accomplices DeAngelo Love and Maurice Brown were both sentenced to 25 years.

More recently a Morehouse student was shot Tuesday Oct. 13 at 1 a.m. while walking home from the campus library. The student has since been released from Grady Memorial Hospital after treatment for a gunshot wound to the arm.

“Some of these areas are still not safe at that time of the morning,” Pennington said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I think [the students] have become easy targets for some of the criminals.”

The four new officers will be assigned to patrol between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m. and will most likely be compensated for overtime. The four officers will be complemented by four officers patrolling the AUC campus as well as a number of undercover officers who will likely pose as students btoh on and around campus. There was no mention of increased patrol near the Georgia State campus.

“It’s going to be a two-pronged approach, one is high visibility and one is going to be an undercover approach,” said assistant police chief Alan Dreher at the press conference.

“We are thankful for the additional support. In the past when the APD has increased presence in Home Park there was a corresponding decrease in criminal activity,” said Home Park Community Improvement Association (HPCIA) President Nelson Burke. “[Late hours kept by Tech students] has a lot to do with in increase in crime in Home Park. Most of the crimes are happening between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.”

The HPCIA has offered a board position to Student Government Association to increase communication.

Closer to home, the Georgia Tech Police Department released their crime statistics last week, including tips for both personal and property safety as well as statistics on crime between 2006 and 2008. The report indicated that 2,110 criminal offenses have been reported on campus during the three-year period. Of those crimes 2,091 were burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft or robbery. There was a clear increase in crime between 2007 and 2008. In 2007 the annual crime total reported to the GTPD was 626, while 763 crimes were reported in 2008.

While only three cases of aggravated assault were reported in 2008 according to the crime summary released, there was a decrease from the six assaults in 2007.

While data from 2009 was not included, does report that there had been 372 crimes reported between Jan. and July of 2009, an average of approximately 53 crimes per month. When compared to the three years prior, which averaged approximately 58 crimes per month, there appears to have been a slight decrease in overall number of crimes reported to the GTPD. According to there were eight reported aggravated assaults in 2008, indicating an increase in reports of violent crime.